David Zugnoni's Blog

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A Little Nonsense Now and Then…

Friday, July 12th, 2013 by

I’ll always remember the day my fifth grade teacher drew on her face with a dry erase marker.

She was writing on the ol’ overhead projector like she always did, and suddenly stopped. There was no buildup, no warning at all. a little nonsense now and then

She drew a mustache and a goatee. I think she added freckles and an exaggerated smile, but I can’t confirm it. We all giggled. She didn’t say anything. She was at ease, like she was putting on makeup with nobody watching. It was over in 60 seconds.

I can’t remember the context surrounding this event. I don’t know what subject she was teaching at the time. I don’t know what time of day it was. I don’t know if the class was attentive, rowdy or bored.

I wish I could remember, because I’m fascinated by this. It was so unexpected. This teacher wasn’t particularly wacky. What was she thinking? (more…)

Brevity rules, verbosity drools

Friday, May 3rd, 2013 by

My favorite class in high school was the one where I wrote boring essays to fill arbitrary length requirements. I learned valuable lessons. I learned to use two adjectives that mean the same thing. I learned the art of the go-nowhere tangent. I learned that passive voice created longer sentences than active voice. I learned to say the same thing twice. I learned to repeat myself. Courier New was everyone’s favorite font. It turned one and a half pages and a C+ into two pages and an A.

Those were the days. I was rewarded for bad habits.

These days, I love concise language. Everyone does. Making clear points quickly is a 21st century skill that should be taught early. It’s a career skill, a conversation skill, a life skill. Nobody has time for wordiness, from the kid taking your lunch order to the head honcho at your workplace. (more…)

A blog post about why you shouldn’t read this blog post

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 by

It’s the holiday season as far as I’m concerned. First, we had a joyous April Fools Day. Fake parking tickets still work after all these years. And now we’ve got Screen-Free Week starting on April 29.

These are alpacas. I learned about alpacas last night while enjoying screen-free human interaction.

What’s Screen-Free Week, you ask? It’s like Christmas. The differences are that it doesn’t cost you anything, the weather is nicer, and instead of giving people gifts, you give yourself the gifts of fresh air, rested eyes, and human interaction.

Originally called TV Turnoff Week in 1994, its creators probably never imagined how many normal Joes would walk around town carrying magical cell phones with Internet, video, music, games, and an app that saves a parking space for you. Yes, that exists.

Even so, the basic idea remains the same. Too much screen time isn’t good for you, and it’s especially bad for kids. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which runs the event, would remind you that preschoolers average 32 hours of screen media per week. But you knew that. You also knew that screen time can lead to irregular sleep patterns, body image issues, lack of creativity, early childhood aggression, academic failure, and weight problems. (more…)

4 Youth Basketball Coaching Concepts That Translate to Classroom Teaching

Thursday, April 18th, 2013 by

I’ve coached basketball to kids of every age from 4 to 18, and I’ve found that sports not only teach life lessons to the kid wearing the jersey, but also the coach sitting on the bench (or standing, yelling and stomping his feet). Learning to coach basketball is a lesson in leadership, not just V-dribbles and jump stops. Here are four basketball coaching concepts that go much further than the hardwood.

1. Focus on fundamentals: Build skills, build them some more, and keep building them.

Many youth coaches make the mistake of teaching complicated strategic concepts while their players lack the physical skills to put these concepts into use. Good coaches teach the fundamentals—dribbling, passing, shooting and footwork—and practice them at every practice. In the long run, the kids become more skilled (more…)